Question and Answer session with the Hotmail team

I recently went to a Hotmail briefing and as many of you know I asked you to send me questions that you want the Hotmail team to answer. Well I asked as many questions as I could (over 20) and here you’ll find the answers I was given.

Q: When will the new features arrive on Windows Phone?

A: “Nothing to say yet.” Microsoft pointed out that the latest update was for the web only.

Q: Can we expect Hotmail to incorporate the Metro UI soon?

A: “We have nothing to share on this right now. All the latest Windows Live announcements can be found on Inside Windows Live blog.”

Q: When will we see the Windows 8 apps?

A: “We have nothing to share on this right now but keep an eye on the Inside Windows Live blog or Steven Sinofsky’s blog for the latest updates.”

Q: Do you guys plan to improve the calendar in Hotmail?

A: It is now possible to add events from the sidebar within Hotmail as the mini-calendar is added to the sidebar in this new release of updates.

Q: Any plans to incorporate Skype into Hotmail or any video calling capabilities?

A: “We have nothing to share on this now but currently there is great video chat functionality through Messenger.”

Whilst being shown the new Hotmail I did notice the new video calling icon in action. When clicking on someone’s name with the camera icon a chat window popped up in the browser like it does now just for IMing. However, there was a box at the top of the window that said “Video chatting is now here, click to install”. Clicking the link did nothing but it’s looked like there could be video calling within the browser soon. If the browser doesn’t support video calling then I think the Messenger client will launch if it’s installed on the computer.

Q: Will the new features come to Hotmail with custom domains?

A: “No plan, but currently users can choose to have @hotmail or @live addresses ”

Q: Will categories allow mailed to be copied using rules?

A: This is one of the many ways that categories can be used.

Q: Will there be any updates to the Hotmail mobile site? AJAX?

A: Apps are currently the focus with fully featured apps available on all the major mobile platforms. The browser is not the focus however good mobile browsers should be able to load the full Hotmail experience anyway.

Q: Will Hotmail support a connector for Mac or Apple’s native mail client?

A: “Hotmail is already available in native app, however better discoverability and ease of set up coming at some point.” It is hoped that configuring Hotmail on the Mac should soon be as obvious as it is on iOS 5.

Q: Will Hotmail support recurrences in non-Gregorian calendars?

A: Not sure why but they will consider it.

Q: When will Hotmail support “Send As” functionality? “Send on behalf” is not good enough.

A: This feature is already available as has been for some time.

Q: Will there be any correlation between Hotmail and Outlook? Such as OneNote linking.

A: The team are going to get back to me about this. They point out though that Hotmail is a service whilst Outlook is a product.

Q: Will there be better Group support or any new features?

A: “We have nothing to share at the moment.”

It was pointed out that Groups on Windows Phone 7.5 is different from Groups on Windows Live.

Q: Any improvements to Contacts?

A: Contacts will be better leveraging a user’s social graph through the various partnerships Windows Live has. No new features to speak of though.

Q: When will Hotmail support British English and its regional settings?

A: The Hotmail team are going to get back to me about this.

Q: Sync tasks with Outlook?

A: Microsoft pointed out that it’s possible to import Hotmail into Outlook but they’re not sure how fully featured the support is for tasks. They will get back to me about this.

Q: How are you planning to make Hotmail accessible to people who use screen readers?

A: Microsoft don’t offer any screen reader support within Hotmail because it makes much more sense to use the screen reader found in most modern web browsers including Internet Explorer 9.

Q: When will the mini-calendar in the sidebar appear?

A: With the new set of features.

Q: IMAP?

A: “IMAP is an older protocol, Exchange Active Sync (EAS) is IMAP + people and calendar.” Microsoft think that EAS is a more reliable and more modern system for Hotmail to use and that the need for IMAP is beginning to “fade away”.

Q: Would you consider rebranding Hotmail?

A: “No plans.”

Personally I found this question amusing, I see absolutely no reason for Microsoft to rebrand Hotmail.

Q: Any news about Messenger or SkyDrive?

A: “Nothing to share right now please read the inside Windows Live blog for the latest developments.”

Q: What’s the craziest feature you would add to Hotmail is you could?

A: The craziest feature would have been to allow the user to have complete control over their inbox.  “This is the priority for Hotmail but we’ll also look to give more control over UI in time”.

An amusing personal example for one of the “crazy” features was for setting a photo of a dog as the background image.

 

I found the question and answer session to be quite informative and the Hotmail guys certainly seemed very interested in some of the questions. I also went armed with several requests that users would like to see added to Hotmail in future updates which Microsoft was especially interested in and I shall be writing a post about that tomorrow.

Editted at the request of Microsoft on October 31st.